Koha – A Gift Comes Home

Last night I was fortunate to be invited to Levin for a celebration of the library trust’s launch of its new web site, the first Koha 3.2 site in the world (see comment below, it may be the 2nd to actually go live). It was a lovely event, held in the council chambers, surrounded by art work by the talented Wendy Hodder as well as enthusiastic supporters and sponsors of the Horowhenua Library Trust (HLT), including the mayor, Brendan Duffy.

This was very much a coming home event for free software system, Koha. Ten years ago HLT and the Koha developers ‘gifted’ Koha to the world, releasing the first web based library management system under a GPL licence. The world accepted the gift and has gifted back in spades. Thousands of libraries use Koha and many companies and individuals offer Koha support and contribute code to Koha. HLT calculate they have a million dollars in the ten years they have been running Koha, on software fees and through other savings. At the same time they have been able to provide world class services to the small New Zealand communities nestled between the Tararua Mountains and the Tasman Sea that make up the Horowhenua region.

In a very nice way, many locals don’t realise just what an impact their library has had on the world. For Koha, last night must have been a bit like Frodo and his friends arriving back in the Shire, having defeated the dark lord Sauron, only to face issues such as Bag End being having been dug up*.

A final word should to the small local businesses who give help financial assistance to HLT. Ian Ranson – the plumber, Whispers CafĂ©, Paper Plus Levin, Garden of York market gardeners and the regional council…You are providing support to your community and to a global community, and you are receiving thanks and support on return.

Be proud, and thanks Joann.

*For me, being from Wellington, everything is an allegory for Lord of the Rings

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